Subscribe & Save

Subscribe & Save

OnFitness Magazine, The BEST health and fitness advice from fitness experts with a personal training emphasis.

Garrett McNamara's Kick Ass Workout

Garrett McNamara's Kick Ass Workout

Garrett McNamara's Kick-ass workout

By Joseph Grassadonia, Editor-in-Chief

When Garrett McNamara speaks of getting pounded in the really big surf, his voice becomes softer and serious. He wants to make clear that what he does to make a living is life and death business with no room for mistakes.

"In theory, I could take an experienced surfer who never trained a day of his life. Never prepared themself physically and mentally and take him out to the biggest wave in the world and tow him in. He could get down on it, make it and actually survive it and ride the biggest wave ever ridden. But if he fell he probably wouldn't come home," says Garrett, who then sits back in his chair looking up to the sky, hands calmly resting on his thighs.

"Being underwater too long will scare anybody, and the power of the waves that we are riding can rip you in half. I've had friends who had their whole arm ripped off and another, their whole leg from the knee. It's definitely a sport of consequences. Once you are good and you’re comfortable and you know what you are doing, you can get away without training too hard as long as you don't fall. But once you fall on the wrong spot, if you're not training, then it can be your last fall."

This profile originally appeared in the July/August 2012 issue of OnFitness Magazine

Garrett McNamara isn't your typical surfer. In 2003 he competed in the Tow Surfing World Cup at Jaws in terrifying 70 foot surf, which even he admits was terrifying. He won and took home the $70,000 purse and world title. In that same year he caught a death defying 20 foot Hawaiian barrel at Jaws.

"I was just floating around in the channel at Jaws," explains Garrett, "when Dane Keola came by and threw me the rope. To my surprise Uncle Dane headed straight out and did a U-turn through the lineup. He whipped me into the first wave of the set -- a wave that challenged every inch and fiber of me. I hit the bottom and looking straight up, thinking, this is a really big wave, while a megaton lip brushed my head. I thought I was going to get crushed and die, I was done for, but to my amazement, I held on while the wave spit me out of its giant tube. That was the biggest and most incredible tube ride of my life. I will never forget it."

Arguably Garrett is one of the world's best big wave surfers, a 5-10, 170 pound big-wave charger. He spends his life pursuing and chasing the biggest and deadliest waves in the world, and most recently he could go down as the man who surfed a 90 foot wave in Portugal, the biggest wave ever ridden in the world.

Surviving these monstrous waves, you must be well-trained and physically fit to survive. Then you must be mentally ready and spiritually ready.

Garrett's Workout

  • Underwater training, running with a 100 pound rock at 40 feet for a minute. This workout is key to building breath, oxygen capacity and confidence underwater.

  • Bikram yoga. Stretching is key to being limber and constantly loose in the surf which helps prevent serious injuries.

  • Barefoot HIIT sprinting on soft grass. Builds strength and endurance as well as fast twitch muscle for explosive power.

  • Whole body workouts. Lots of squat work to build core and powerful lower body. Pushups, core work, bench press, chest and shoulder work to build strong muscles and power for paddling.


Good nutrition is essential

Garrett is a vegetarian and relies on plant based protein.  He eats food that allows him to digest easily and quickly such as lots of greens, avocados, quinoa, beans and fish, as well as lots of garlic.

Most importantly, Garrett eats foods that he can digest quickly that offer lots of energy. He advocates lots and lots of water daily which he believes is the fountain of youth.

Dave Draper

Dave Draper